Tag Archives: siri shortcuts

Shortcut Monday: Daily Journal Prompts in Day One Tracked with Streaks

Shortcut Monday is a series highlighting Shortcuts that I use on a regular basis. If you haven’t downloaded the Shortcuts app yet, you can do so for free here.

I try to do a little bit of journaling everyday. One of the sticking points for me is knowing what to write about. There are numerous suggestions on the internet of different prompts you can use. Some, such as James Clear, suggest writing one line per day with certain prompts. I like his approach because it is not threatening or stressful and its something you easily can do. I’ve taken his idea but modified it a little bit but still with the idea of a minimal barrier of entry.

To this end I created a Siri Shortcut that randomly chooses one prompt from a list that I have created. My minimum requirement is to write a one sentence response to the prompt that will be catalogued in Day One. Some days I end up writing more but this is not required. Depending on the day, all I have time for is a one sentence reflection.

The nice part about this workflow is that its easy to change the prompts if I come across another one that I’d like to add or I can easily remove one.

The prompts:

  • What was the highlight of my day?
  • What am I grateful for today?
  • What was a stressor in my day?
  • What was my most important task today?
  • How do I feel emotionally today?

Journal Prompt Shortcut

Download Shortcut

  • The first step will mark a completion in the Streaks app for tracking. You can easily remove this step or change the streak for your own use.
  • The second step is my list of prompts. If you would like to add/remove an item you can do so here. Make sure that each item is on its own line.
  • The third step makes sure to separate each item into its own line.
  • The fourth step will randomly grab an item from the list. I originally used the Choose from List action but I found this created a little too much friction as I would stare and think about each item and eventually choose one. The random function removes that barrier.
  • Finally, I use the Create Day One entry and format it consistently. The header is the question, the ask for input will bring up a text box where I type my reply, and it will automatically add it to my main journal with the tag “daily journal prompt”

iOS Screen Recording and Sharing on YouTube

For some reason, the screen recording feature does something odd with the audio and video of the file. If you screen record with audio and upload to YouTube (or even try to edit in iMovie) you will notice that there is no audio. I don’t know all the details to why this is but I find it really annoying.

A quick fix for this is to use the “Encode Media” Shortcut action and then save the new file.

This simple shortcut will grab the video from the share sheet, encode the media, and delete the original from your camera roll. Lastly, it give you the option to open the YouTube app or close the shortcut.

Again, I’m not sure why when you upload a screen recording to YouTube it won’t capture the audio but this does fix the problem.

Download the shortcut

Shortcut Monday: Getting a List Dates in the Future

Shortcut Monday is a series highlighting Shortcuts that I use on a regular basis. If you haven’t downloaded the Shortcuts app yet, you can do so for free here.

When I am creating a syllabus for a class it is often a slow and inaccurate (my own errors just reading a calendar properly!) process to get a list of dates in the future. For example, if I’m wanting every Monday for the next 16 weeks I can open up my calendar and write the dates down…or I can use this shortcut.

Download Shortcut

The first step of the workflow is a simple Ask for Input for the number of weeks. The next step takes this total and subtracts one from that number because the workflow will using the starting date that I give it in the next step as the first week.

The second step just asks for the starting date that I would like to use. Next, I format the date for what I would like and set the variable to store for later. The Nothing action just separates the next step so input doesn’t continue being passed through the workflow.

Next, a slightly more complicated calculation that I would not have figured out without the help of sylumer on the Automator’s Discourse forum.

  1. Repeat: This takes the number of weeks that we inputted first and will repeat the following actions X number of times.
  2. Get Variable repeat index: this one is a little bit more complicated but basically it will take the first number and multiple by 7 (1×7), second time through (2×7), third time through (3×7) and so forth.
  3. Next, we will grab the start date with a variable
  4. Adjust Date: this adds the number of days from the repeated variable
  5. Format Date: formats the date properly
  6. Add to Variable: This stores all the dates in a list that we will use in the next step.

Finally, the next group of actions is pretty simple. I first grab the variable from the list of dates and use the Split Text action to make sure they are all on new lines then I copy that text to the clipboard and open Drafts. I have decided if I want to keep the Add to Draft action but currently that is how I have it setup.

You can view the entire Siri Shortcut below.

Siri Shortcut: Send Discourse Forum Posts to OmniFocus

Several podcasts I listen to and apps that I use on a regular basis are using Discourse to form online communities to promote discussion related to the shows and apps. These communities are much better than Facebook groups and help organize topics and conversations in a logical manner. Over the past couple months I’ve found myself posting and interacting with others in the group and am gaining a lot of value hearing others perspectives, giving my opinions, and obtaining help for problems that I face. I check in these groups throughout the day and make note of the conversations that are happening. What I’ve found is that oftentimes there is a post I want to respond to but I don’t have the time to respond at that moment. Instead of trying to remember that I need to respond and or want to go back and read a post, I decided this would be good to utilize OmniFocus.

The four Discourse forums I commonly participate in (with links to them):

  1. Automators Podcast
  2. Drafts App
  3. Focused Podcast – This is a subgroup of the MPU Discourse Forum
  4. Mac Power Users Podcast

I first started by clicking on the link to the post to bring up the share sheet and send the link to OmniFocus. Every time I went through the steps of renaming the action, moving the link to the note field, adding tags (somewhat inconsistently), and then saving.

Of course there had to be a better way so I opened up Siri Shortcuts to create a workflow. This workflow has several different steps (scroll down to see the entire shortcut).

The first action (get name) gets the name of the webpage from the URL. In Discourse (even within the iOS app) it is the title of the forum post.

UPDATE: I’ve added an action that removes " from the title field and replaces it with an actual quote.

The second set of actions utilizes choose from list action. I’ve learned after working with Siri Shortcuts for a little while how to better use this action. First, I use the text action and type in the different forums that this could be. I will use this as one of my OmniFocus tags. As you can see there are four main forums that I converse in. You, of course, can easily edit this for your own needs (Automators Podcast, Drafts App, Focused Podcast, and Mac Power Users Podcast). The second action with this is the split text action, which makes sure that each item is on its own line. Since this creates a list, I use the choose from list action to select the forum.

The third set of actions uses the choose from list action again but this time I want to delineate between if I want to just go back and read this post/replies or respond to it. This will be used as my action word at the front of my OmniFocus task.

The Nothing action may or not need to be there (?) but using it works and doesn’t break anything so that’s why I have it there. My thinking is that this separates the actions from the final action and doesn’t send any input into the last action that I don’t want.

Finally, through the use of Magic Variables I’m ready to create my OmniFocus task via the Add OmniFocus Item action:

  1. The name of the action consists of the “Read” or “Respond to” prompt for my action word.
  2. The second Magic Variable is the Get Name action, which is the name of the topic.
  3. The Context (or Tags…this still needs to be updated!) is Discourse Forums and the name of the forum that I chose. In OmniFocus I have a perspective that utilizes these tags so I can see my list of items to go through in Discourse quickly.
  4. Finally, the Notes field of the task is the Shortcut Input, which is the URL to the post. I then have a Ask When Run prompt that allows me to type in any other information I would like.

UPDATE: I add an action to open the Discourse app again since that is where I originally grab the link.

That’s it! It’s a pretty simple Shortcut but one I find helpful for managing my time and not sorting through and trying to remember what posts I want to respond to or read.

You can download the updated shortcut here.

Shortcut Monday: Using Drafts and Siri Shortcuts to Send an Email

Shortcut Monday is a series highlighting Shortcuts that I use on a regular basis. If you haven’t downloaded the Shortcuts app yet, you can do so for free here.

Download shortcut

The following is a shortcut that I use to email our apartment complex for maintenance requests. The basic skeleton of the shortcut is how I’ve set up several different email Siri Shortcuts.

The first question asks whether or not I would like to type the email in Drafts. I could just ask for a prompt within Shortcuts, but I prefer writing in Drafts so I have access to some of the formatting and the email will also be stored and archived for reference. The reason that I ask if I need to type it in Drafts is that I found that sometimes I had already typed the email in Drafts and copied the text before opening the Shortcut. So, if I already have the text of the email on my clipboard, then I just choose no.

If I do need to type in Drafts then choosing yes will open up the Drafts app. From there I will type out my email in Markdown formatting. Once I am finished typing the email I need to copy the text and return to the Shortcuts app to complete the workflow. I created an action in Drafts that will copy the text of the Draft and open Siri Shortcuts. Since I use it so much in other workflows, I set a keyboard shortcut to it as well for when I’m on my iPad.

Once I return to the Shortcuts app, I am prompted for the subject of my email. For all my email workflows I have the prompt for the subject last. By default, I have “Maintenance Request for CURRENT DATE (format SHORT)”. I could change this if I would like, but most of the time I keep the default there. Also, here is a reference to all the different date formats used in Siri Shortcuts.

The next step of the workflow grabs the clipboard (the text I typed in Drafts) and converts it to Rich Text for the email.

The last step opens the compose window with the To, Cc, Subject, and Body already filled in.

While I do not use the default Apple Mail app for my email, I actually find that it works most consistent when sending an email through Shortcuts. Part of this is that if I switch from Spark at any time in the future, I don’t want to change all my workflows that are dependent on Spark. This will always work.

While this simple Shortcut is for a maintenance request, it could easily be changed for your own purposes for an email that you have to send often.

Download shortcut

Date and Time Formatting in Siri Shortcuts

I’m always trying to remember the different date formats when using the Shortcuts app. Apple has some of the basics on the Shortcuts help page but it doesn’t look into all the options. I’m not a programmer so much this language was foreign to me so I went ahead and took the time to outline what each option looks like as a reference.

If you would like, you can download a text file of this information with Markdown formatting or download the shortcut, which produced this information.

Date Formats

  • Relative: Today
  • ISO 8601: 2019-01-07
  • RFC 2822: Mon, 07 Jan 2019 06:53:12 -0500
  • Short: 1/7/19
  • Medium: Jan 7, 2019
  • Long: January 7, 2019
  • Custom (EEEEE): Mon, 07 Jan 2019 06:53:12 -0500
  • Custom (EEEE): Monday
  • Custom (EEE or EE or E): Mon

Other Custom

Note: Each of these can be customized with different combinations but at the most basic level M = Month, d = Day, y = Year

  • M – 1
  • MM – 01
  • MMM – Jan
  • MMMM – January
  • d – 7
  • dd – 07
  • y OR yyy OR yyyy – 2019
  • yy – 19

Time Formats

  • Short: 6:53 AM
  • Medium: 6:53:12 AM
  • Long: 6:53:12 AM EST

Shortcut Monday: Text Multiple People at Once

Shortcut Monday is a series highlighting Shortcuts that I use on a regular basis. If you haven’t downloaded the Shortcuts app yet, you can do so for free here.

Download Shortcut

This simple shortcut can send a message to multiple people at once (without being in a group).

I have several friends that are fellow St. Louis Cardinals fans that I enjoy texting articles or thoughts throughout the season about our favorite baseball team. It doesn’t make since to put them all in a group message because they don’t all know each other. But it is also quite annoying to try to send the same message or link to multiple people.

Enter Shortcuts. This is a super simple shortcut but one that I use all the time.

First, it will ask you for the text that you want to send to each person. Once you enter in the message it will send to each person individually in the background.

That’s it. Seriously.

Perfect for not creating an unnecessary group message or copying and pasting the same message multiple times.

Another real world use case for me is sending a message to both sets of parents. Since we adopted Jax I am constantly giving the same update to both Jen’s side and my side. This makes it quite easy to do so.

You can download the Shortcut here.

A very simple but extremely useful shortcut

A very simple but extremely useful shortcut

Study and Focus Music: Chris Potter Playlist

Chris Potter is one of my favorite jazz artists. His upbeat style with a modern flare always makes for some good background music. I’m in no way a jazz aficionado so I don’t know the particular differences between him and someone like Miles Davis but much of the jazz out there doesn’t work for me when I am trying to study or focus on a work project.

I’ve put together a playlist of several albums of Chris Potter. All (I think) of the tracks do not have words so its ideal for background music while studying.

You can listen to the playlist here on Apple Music and add it to your library.

Additionally, if you add the playlist to your Apple Music library you can run this Siri Shortcut:

  1. Sets your device to Do Not Disturb (it will ask you how long)
  2. Shuffles the Chris Potter Jazz playlist
  3. Sets the volume to 75%

When you add the Siri Shortcut you can modify it to better fit how you work.

Download the Chris Potter Jazz shortcut.

Shortcut Monday: Dictate a Daily Reflection to Day One

Shortcut Monday is a series highlighting Shortcuts that I use on a regular basis. If you haven’t downloaded the Shortcuts app yet, you can do so for free here.

Since we adopted our first child, Jax, we noticed that we talked much less about our lives with each other than we previously did. Our conversations largely focused on our son but not about what is going on emotionally such as stressors, happenings during the day, or even just what is on our mind. To this end my wife had a brilliant idea of us asking four simple questions to each other every day. These questions help let each other know how our day went but also how we are doing emotionally both positively and negatively.

While we do this everyday in conversation with each other I wanted a way to capture this in Day One on my way home. The transition from work to home can sometimes be difficult. I often will just listen to a podcast but this will not only help me prepare for our conversation but also help with this transition (download the shortcut here).

I created this specific Shortcut for these four questions but I will probably use the same logic with audio prompts and dictation for other types of entries.

The Four Questions

  1. What was your low (or worst thing) about your day? This question is fairly simple and just answers what was the worst thing about your day. Most of our days are pretty mediocre but this gives us a chance to reflect on our day and share something that happened. Sometimes this is as simple as “I went out to eat and I didn’t eat as healthy as I would have like” or sometimes more complex such as recounting a conversation with a co-worker that was difficult during the day. This also gives each of us the chance to expand on what happened during the day and we will often engage in a lengthier conversation about what went on.
  2. What was your high (or best thing) about your day? This is the same question but on the positive side.
  3. What has you feeling negative right at this moment? This question is similar to the one above but the focus isn’t on something that necessarily happened today. The goal of this question is to look at the stressors in our life that may be weighing us down. It’s a time to pause and focus about what is going on inside emotionally and to verbalize that to one another. This could be the upcoming stress of trying to get everything ready to go in order to leave for Christmas, to a project at work that is hanging over our head, our son’s schedule, or a whole host of other things going on.
  4. What has you feeling positive right at this moment? The same question as above but we want to end on a positive note.

The Workflow (download)

You will need to first download the audio files here then upload them to iCloud Drive and create a folder within the Shortcuts folder titled Daily Reflections (iCloud Drive/Shortcuts/Daily Reflections)

First, I get the current volume of the phone and store that in a variable. I want to set my volume to the max so I can clearly hear the prompts but afterwards I would like my phone to go back to the previous volume.

Beginner Tip: The “Get Device Details” can grab all sorts of information from your phone from the volume, brightness, version number, etc. This can be handy in a variety of situations.

Grab the current volume then set the phone volume to the max
Grab the current volume then set the phone volume to the max

Next, I wanted to be able to do this while I’m driving so I need this to be completely hands free. I created four audio files of me saying each question. This gives me the prompt and then a slight pause so I can begin to formulate what I would like to say. The dictation box then comes up and I can just speak my answer. After I pause for a second it moves onto the next prompt. This same action will run four times but with a different audio prompt.

Beginner Tip: The “Get File” action grabs the audio from iCloud Drive. The “Play Sound” action takes that audio and plays it through my phone. When you are working with Shortcuts you have to think like a programmer. Thus, you can just use “Play Sound” because the app doesn’t know what sound you want to play. You have to provide it with some sort of audio file first.

Grab the previously recorded file and play the sound
Grab the previously recorded file and play the sound

Before going to the Day One action I want to reset my phone’s volume so I use the “Set Volume” action and using a “Magic Variable” I grab the device details from the first step in the workflow and use that for the new volume.

The nice thing about the Shortcuts app is that I don’t have to store each of these dictated texts into a variable for later. By using “Magic Variables” I can grab each of these dictations in the Day One action.

Since Day One can use Markdown I use the # sign to do my header then type in the prompts in bold via the asterisks. Each “Dictated Text” variable is just obtained from the workflow.

The final step
The final step

Next, the workflow will open up in Day One. When I’m driving I have my phone in a holder on the windshield which can read my face without really moving it in order to get into Day One so it can save it.

That’s it. You can download the workflow here and of course feel free to modify it however you would like.

Don’t forget that you can also setup your own Siri command to run this Shortcut. The default is set to “Daily Reflection”

The entire shortcut
The entire shortcut